Knocking the Door of Digital Heaven: What could Make them Open

Knocking on the Door of the Digital Heaven:
What Could Make Them Open
Insights and Examples from the Kingdom of Bahrain
Tomas Lamanauskas
Deputy General Director
22 June 2007
The views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and are without prejudice to any position TRA may take in its’ regulatory activities
Main elements…
• What is going to be an enabler?
– The Holy Grail – a Next Generation Network
» A packet-based network, able to provide telecommunications
services and able to make use of multiply broadband, QoSenabled transport technologies and in which service-related
functions are independent from underlying transport-related
» It enables unfettered access for users to networks and to
competing service providers and/or services of their choice
– To what extent it is possible?
• What is enabled?
– Transport independent services with global reach?
– More sophisticated services from the same old provider?
Infrastructure - What is important?..
• International connectivity
– Essential for global high-bandwidth-demanding services
– How to encourage competitive choice?
» How to break a “chicken or egg” dilemma?
» What comes first – demand or supply?
– How to ensure the adequate capacity and appropriate prices?
» What is the right approach for small developing countries?
• Backbone/backhaul
– Incumbent’s fiber networks
» Including wholesale services
– Alternative networks
» Fiber
– Ability to construct and/or share ducts
» Other technologies
– microwaves?
– Free Space Optics?
Infrastructure – What is important?..
• Access:
– Wire-based over incumbent’s networks:
» Incumbent’s DSL
– Including resale
» Bitstream based
» Based on unbundled local loop
– Alternative wire-based
» FTTx
– Independent networks
- Mainly business oriented
– Integral part of property developers’ business model – selling point for
residential and business facilities
-Networks operated by telecoms operators
-Operator neutral networks
» Cable-TV networks
– Not in Bahrain
Infrastructure – What is important?..
• Access:
– Wireless
» Free Space Optics
– Used to connect business customers
» WiFi muni-type networks
– Roll-out of free privately driven access
for residential users in Bahrain
» 3G/3.5G
– Bahrain is fully covered
– 2 operators launching their
services in Bahrain this autumn
» Sattelite
– Main network for multi-channel television
in Bahrain
» New generation broadcasting networks
– Digital terrestrial television
– Digital mobile/handheld television
Content provision… “Walled gardens” or Open space”?
• Possible benefits of the “walled gardens” :
– Lower prices for access services because of the subsidies from content
» Introduction of new technologies in a more affordable way
– Possibilities for better quality of service control
– Some services should still be provided “close to the edge” because of
technological/bandwidth considerations
» Esp., IPTV
– “One stop shopping” and integrated billing
» Less confusion for consumer
– Trusted relationship between access provider and user
» Important with regard to payment for services
– Some users could want space not to be so open
» Social-cultural-moral considerations, together with…
– Every society has its own values
– One size does not necessarily fit all
» … Lack of user confidence in their ability to protect themselves
– Protection of minors issue
– Extra-jurisdictional issues
≫Real life example – Jordan Kiosk Edufun by Jordan Telecom
Content provision… “Walled gardens” or “Open space”?
• Restrictions of the “walled gardens”
– Less choice of services and their providers
– Risk for small countries (in particular with low penetration) to
be left behind
» High entrance costs for global application providers in
comparison with possible benefits
» Burdensome administration
» Weak bargaining power of local operators
» Integration into regional or global co-operation frameworks
could be vital
– Barriers for small service/content providers to reach global
customer base
» One of the basic benefits of the Internet undermined
Content provision… “Walled gardens” or “Open space”?
• Why “open space”?:
– “Global village” - ability to reach global content
» Global knowledge base
Mainly work related
» Global social networks (“user generated” media)
The most searched words at Google in 2006 (BBC):
-World Cup
Content provision… “Walled gardens” or “Open space”?
• Why “Open space”?:
– “My own old good hamlet wherever I go”
» 38% of Bahrain population – expatriates
– Still part of their nations
- nation "is imagined [community] because the members of even the
smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or
even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their
communion" (Andersen, B.)
- created by “print-capitalism” and being kept together by “death of distance”
in the “information age”
» What kind of content they are interested in (anecdotal evidence):
– Home country/town news
– Home country/town radio stations
– Home sports club
– Home bank
– Blogs of politicians back home
– …..
» Modes of usage – real time/time shift
Content provision… “Walled gardens” or “Open space”?
• Downsides of the “open space”:
– No possibilities to cross-subsidize
between access/network and content services
» Could mean more expensive access
» No “free” broadband?
– More difficult to control the quality of services
» Importance of this factor is diminishing with the
development of technologies
– More choice also increase confusion for a customer
» Need for an educated user
“Walled gardens” v. “Open space” – what is the answer?
• So – which model should regulators prefer
– Unlock the “walled gardens” and ensure “network neutrality”?
– Let operators earn money from content provision?
– Or maybe… - Let the market decide…
» Promote competition and tackle market failures in a usual way
– Creativity should be encouraged and not punished, but…
– Real market failures should be remedied
» “Walled gardens” could be a good initial strategy
– Esp., for novice users, who could get cheaper access, more protection and less confusion
– Could assist in building a business case for “open space” strategy
- Users would know, why they are paying money for the access…
» Operators themselves start opening the “walled gardens” as a way to gain a
competitive advantage
– Content market is much smaller than the transport one
– “User generated” media increases traffic needs, but decreases need for a premium content
» Long-term anti-competitive market closure should be avoided
» Is the issue new?
– Cross subsidy between services and hand-sets led the growth in mobile market
making it the most successful electronic communication market
– Just a few other examples:
Some regulatory insights…
• Overarching approach – promoting competitive outcomes
– Coherent regulation of converging infrastructures
» Technological neutrality
– Barriers to entry to be eliminated
» Bahrain telecommunications market is fully liberalised
» In Bahrain – comprehensive review of telecommunications licensing
framework underway
– Creativity to be promoted
– Market failures to be remedied
» Regulators could need new powers to tackle competition issues, spanning
over transport and content
• Specific approaches on the infrastructure side:
– Promoting adequate international connectivity
» Supporting private initiatives aimed at achieving provision of alternative links
» Promotion of demand aggregation (e.g., National/Regional Internet
– Enabling operators to build wire-based networks (esp., backbone/backhaul)
» Access to public property, esp. road-corridors
» Duct sharing
» Promoting access to ducts and corridors of other utilities
Some regulatory insights…
• Specific approaches on the infrastructure side (cont’d):
– Access to inputs, administered by the state, in particular radio
» Bahrain recently implemented light-licensing for WiFi, licensed
WiMAX spectrum, comprehensive reform of radio spectrum
management with a view to lower barriers to spectrum is under
– Adequate access to the bottlenecks, operated by incumbent:
» Wholesale DSL
» Bitstream
» Local loop unbundling
– Clear policy regarding the infrastructure deployment in the new
property developments
» In particular important in such countries as Bahrain, with
extremely rapid “green-field” urban development
Some regulatory insights…
• Specific approaches on the services/content side:
– Clear framework for representation of public interests,
representing cultural, moral, religious values of the society
» Different from the economical-technical regulation
– Separation or integration of these issues into overarching ICT
regulation – region/country specific solution should be adopted
» Taking into account changing trends of media consumption
» Understanding differences between regions/countries
» Taking into account interests of economic development
» Represented via clear, open and transparent policies as well as
legislative and regulatory frameworks
– Adequate legal and regulatory framework for payments
– Promotion of adequate intellectual property licensing
» Smaller countries risk being secluded if agreed on country-bycountry basis only
» Adequate systems of royalties
Some regulatory insights…
• Specific approaches on services/content side (cont’d):
– Pragmatic approach to jurisdiction
» TRA Bahrain’s Position Paper on Regulation of VoIP services (05/2007):
– “…TRA would not consider telecommunications service providers
covered by its jurisdiction (and therefore obliged to be licensed according
to the Law and comply with the relevant obligations) only because their
services could be accessed by the residents of the Kingdom of Bahrain
utilising the Internet services. However TRA would consider that the Law
applies to all the service providers irrespective of the place of their
establishment and location of their technical equipment who effectively,
deliberately, and purposefully direct their activities to residents of the
Kingdom of Bahrain.”
– “The positions outlined above do not preclude TRA or any other public
authority of the Kingdom of Bahrain from taking necessary steps to
restrict access to services materially infringing the laws of the Kingdom
of Bahrain.”
– Ensuring adequate level of consumer protection
» Appropriate national frameworks should be in place
– Customer protection framework (economic rights)
– Privacy and data protection
– Cyber-security
» National level is not sufficient
– Arab Regulators Network established a Working Group on Consumer
Thank you…
Tomas Lamanauskas
Deputy General Director
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tel: +973 1752 0000, Fax: +973 1753 2125